arrive at the top of the steps and look in and see the shelves filled with books. it is inspiring. >> i love when we have visitors coming for the first time. a walk in the front door and usually the first thing i hear is a giant gas. and then the next word out of their mouth is that this is what a library should look like. part of what i find overwhelming the totally gratifying is that this institution has existed for hundreds of years. everyday when i come into work i get to contribute to history. the athenaeum is in the historic section of providence, rhode island. we are one of 17 membership
libraries in the country today. the providence athenaeum is one of two museums. we have one that actually predates us. the word athenaeum comes from the greek idea of learning and it is so fitting that architecturally based on the greek revival style, it fits very well. but a they athenaeum was a place where people came to converse and talk about their ideology. their theologies and their sciences. exploration. it was really a convenient place. it still is today. we trace their history back to 1753 when the providence library company formed by the men of the day to form a library for all
individuals. they did that in order to share resources, and at that time the city was willing and they wanted to make that information available to all people. it existed in many places throughout the city. they purchased the materials from england and the collection had about 345 titles. there was a tragic event in the late 1700s where there was a fire on christmas eve and 345 titles they originally purchased were destroyed. we actually still have some of the founding collection. what is really interesting is that they have the foresight to make a market niche and so that
they knew they were following the original collection so as you can see closely at the top, they made a notation in the original register. if we continue to try to replace the original volume as it becomes available. they were checking them out and tracking them early on. they ended up purchasing more books in different buildings throughout the city. later there was another organization called the providence athenaeum that formed in 1831. in 1836, the providence athenaeum was formed as a result of these two organizations. and we ended up being in the
arcade downtown for a couple of years while this property was being built, and then we moved in here in 1838. we open our doors onto what was the marketplace at that time. the former president of brown university gave us the doors that are wide open in and the crowd gathers, and he's talking about the four sides of the city of providence. so each state should mention the historical evidence of this building is quite profound. the building itself from the original building was built in 1838. the architect was william strickland, who was a young
architect, one of the early founders and this is one of his only examples of three revival architecture in the city. the athenaeum is special in many ways. i can get a special obviously from what we see visually. this is just an amazing space. while the viewers cannot experience actually being in the space at times, at least not visually, there is this old smell of books and i would liken it to frankincense and murder. but it is a very personal space. i think people come for the sons of the building. i think they come because there's a sense of community. we don't have library cards.
it is almost like cheers where everyone knows your name. we are not necessarily the quietest library either. the circulation duct is located right in the center of the space and we are always seeing old friends if they come in. we predated the public library movement. when the providence library company was formed, it was based on benjamin frequence idea. the founding fathers actually had a company and they purchased chairs and invested in. and then they used those resources to purchase books. the earlier organization had also done a similar thing. so basically when we were organized, everyone was a member of the library and the members of that organization purchased shares in and they made it available to families and so forth. and they were using the
resources from the community and public resources to support the library. many libraries are still supported by members. we consider ourselves coming from that tradition and independent member supported libraries open to the public. that means all of our funding, unlike the public funding of libraries, basically comes from our own resources. we are fortunate that the people that started this institution years and years ago thought to cover it with an endowment. but most of our financial needs come from the members themselves. they purchase a membership. while we are open to the public, people can come in and utilize the space and enjoy the space and if they want to actually borrow a book, then they would purchase a membership fee
. it is usually someone who is intellectually curious who comes here. someone who is immersed in history and is a bibliophile. someone that is looking for new experiences to our programming. one of the reasons people come and visit the athenaeum is because they have for these amazing stories about how edgar allan poe courted sarah helen whitman. she was actually a thought herself. she was a writer and a prominent woman here in providence. and she had become quite
enamored by mr. edgar allan poe, much to her family's dissatisfaction. because he had some kind of reputation that was not good. but sarah helen whitman would come here and edgar allan poe would come here and order. so the story was of the meeting. his signature is in pencil under this poem that he will for her in this book. our collections represent the reading interests of the populace at that time. as a combination of the founding fathers that continue to work here and didn't want to discard
anything, we retain those collections and now those collections represent insights into a group of people that are trying to form a library at that time were their own civilization is taking form. this place has witnessed civil unrest, economic unrest, the american revolution, whether travesties and still has continued to keep its personality. today we continue to be true to our mission. also in theory vibrated effort and cultural center where we are an amplifier, if you will, of local culture. we really try to embrace that part of our mission by working with the city. the members of the staff and
those that participated in the creative process. we also collaborate with over 100 organizations here in the city. we have filled those collaborations over the last six or seven years in the way that has put this up in the forefront in the activity of the community versus the perception of an old historic library that is a depository of books from a dusty shelf. but more of an institution that is letting the past teach it to be relevant in the future. >> u.s. senator sheldon whitehouse is next. his book is "on virtues: quotations and insight to live a full, honorable, and truly american life".
>> we were coming and we were passing through the open ranks of the other day. we were ragged and we had no shoes. gettysburg was bloody and in shreds. there were 8000 of us. this is a book that is a somewhat personal and quirky book. but it is one person's book through history and to what people have said in the past to talk about things that have meaning that i think still have meaning in modern life. i have collected things that i like for my own use. and then as i got more into it, i begin to think that this is something i can pass on to my
own children. kenya key new agent, so i wrote to him and i passed it on to him. so my old journal was turned into a book. i started collecting quotes when i was working for the governor. when i went to the u.s. attorney general's office, kept adding to them. reason was twofold. one was to keep a record of things and the other was to talk about things that would be useful in arguments and debates and discussions. to make points and things like
that. there are a lot of quotations from supreme court cases, and i tried to assemble them into the same sort of packets that you get the point you can move onto other things. but there is a piece of this that was about being a better lawyer and advocate as well as being a better person, you may not always succeed, but you can try to. i fairly often go back and forth through flipped through the book when i try to remember something that was in it. there are examples of courage and heroism end of faith and adversity and having strength and holding firm in difficult circumstances. all of those things are
important. even if i don't succeed at implementing them. the lord said who shall go press? and i said here i am, send me. i think that spirit is one that i was brought up with. i tried to show that this is the principle that i care about and live by. i did want a resource that i could go back to. i have used the resource in the senate. when the bush administration was trying to justify the use of torture, i used a quote from winston churchill about how it looks good at the beginning, but if you go down that road, and it
gets bad. and he talks about a staircase leading down and as you go down, eventually crumbles beneath your feet. that is a great image. sometimes the right image can make the difference. i am very exposed and engaged in rhode island life. that is a good rhode island quote. the warden wrote a letter to george washington asking that it should be the policy of the united states to give the sanctions or persecution of
assistance. so he writes back to him to the conversation of the congregation. if you are in legislative business, if you work for someone come you don't want to annoy them too much. you just go on and whatever else you have to do. so there's a lot of rhode island history, we have a lot of experience here. i think one of the things about the book and the quotations is my sense that you can be engaged as a citizen and voter and public voice and be engaged in
your community. however you choose to do so. i think it is inherently american to see ourselves as citizens and having an active role in our community and society and politics. so a lot of these quotes focus on that relationship. a structure of government. how it works. frustrations, the occasional moments of glory. what people have talked instead about it. and i hope that the book encourages both with a little bit of patience. it's not just a reference work. it's not just the place where you go look for a quote to open a speech. it is more something that someone can flip through they
are thinking about issues in their life. if they are wondering about their engagement assistance. if they are facing suffering or uncertainty. and i think the book ended up having a bit of a voice. they come from every different angle. i think there is a type of flow or theme to a lot of what is in this book. i put the comments in after the editing to highlight parts. the part that i particularly liked were to show why i thought it was a case somebody was wondering why was in there. i also think makes the book a little bit more personal. each quote comes with an
explanation. it is almost like a little gift one by one for me. i wanted to take away the sense that these writers have a rich understanding of how special our political processes. here we are in the loggerhead moment. and the situations repeat themselves through time. there is a quote from a minister of france who said one shouldn't be obstinate. and one ought to be unshakable.
i think that is a good phrase for the moment we're in right now. the president, he ought to be unshakable. i still collect quotes and i think i probably will for the rest of my life. whether it is a window in a moment of history or a well phrased thought that has emotional resonance to it, it's a great thing to have on hand. >> now, robert self, the author of "all in the family: the realignment of american democracy since the 1960's." booktv sat down with mr. robert self when we were in providence, rhode island. scoring
>> it is an explanation how our politics have been dominated by questions of women's roles in society and gender and sexuality. in the last half-century, american politics were transformed. this is central to how americans think. one of the things that i talk about is how the american family was essential to the new deal of the 1930s and the 1960s. this is the idea that american families require some support. social security is perhaps the best example. but there are others.
for a good three or four decades, a critical feature was a commitment to a particular kind of nuclear family. especially a male breadwinner nuclear family. what happened in the 1960s is that that liberal commitment went into crisis. it was a profound crisis because of the social crisis that challenged the essential family from the left side of the spectrum. if you think about the civil rights movement, the various feminism is about area. challenging the idea that there is a model of the american family. it went into a prolonged time a political crisis.
stepped into the breach and proposes a new model of the american family. one that requires more protection and so the book really tells the story of the politicized american family that needs support economically one that needs protection morally. that's how i characterize the ship to a more conservative political culture. the critical difference between the pre-1960s and the post 1970s conservative model of the family really comes down to the role of the state. the role of our collective empowerment through the national
government. the role that it plays in our lives. families require basic economic security. national government and state and local government play an important role in providing resources. that is part of the liberal model of the family itself. well, with conservatives the idea is a family that needs not economic protection, but more protection. that speaks to a very different role for the government. the government's job is not to help support economically, but to prevent them from experiencing were coming into contact with an immoral society. take the example of reproductive rights as an example.
for many conservatives, this is simply an immoral process or act in government jobs should be to prevent it. and that is a legitimate role for government as conservatives view it. it is very important to the story. if you think about the liberal politicians, the notable politicians of that era, someone like fdr, john f. kennedy, lyndon johnson, these were political figures who believed in what we would now call the male breadwinner families. that was still part of the liberal idea. that was challenged in the 60s particularly by feminism and the gay and lesbian rights movement.
the model of the family is heterosexual. they said it was patriarchal. but it doesn't represent the full breadth of the american family and the way that americans actually live their lives. and that was a deep challenge to liberalism itself. it is one of the precipitating events and forces that create this crisis. it is not the only one, but it is a major one. an interesting example that i used in the book. one of the most critical hinges his arguments over subsidized childcare in the 1970s. here we see a battle between the forces on the liberal left and
forces on the emergence of not yet powerful conservative rights. this happened in 1971. congress passed a comprehensive child development act that provided large subsidies for childcare in the united states. it was in response to a very strong grassroots local movement that was essential to the lives of working women. congress passed it and it was sent to president nixon's desk. and it was the first moment in national politics that we see an eruption of a grassroots response on the right. nixon white house received thousands of letters. pat buchanan, who was an adviser, understood that. he communicated the message to nixon. and the message was subsidized
childcare threatens the traditional model of the family. it threatens the traditional idea of this and the president should veto it. it is a critical turning point in these politics. another thing takes place in the late 1970s. that is when we see the birth of the family value movement. that movement came out of the opposition to the equal rights amendment the fight of conservative activists. especially in the mid-and late
1970s helped to galvanize the profamily movement. that movement became the family values movement and was critical to the reagan coalition together in 1980. it actually turns up some surprising discoveries as well. i have a whole chapter about the war. the way that battles over manhood and how americans argued over vietnam. if you think about it, it makes sense. on the one hand you have conservative americans or americans who saw themselves as patriots in the 1970s, and they believed that man's responsibility was to be drafted and to serve their country and
stand when called. but there were other americans who believe that a man's duty was to stand up to what they perceived to be an immoral war. there was a moral calling for american men to resist what they saw as an immoral war. much of the debate over vietnam came down to what was a male citizens real responsibility. how did that play out in the political arena. i wrote this in some ways for two reasons. one is a deeply personal one. one is a more professional and scholarly one. the professional one is that i am a child of this era in the 1970s. i came up in the shadow of all these fights and struggles. in many ways, the repercussions shaped me growing up. i had a very intense desire to understand what it was that
shaped my childhood and shape the world in which i grew up. so that is the personal reason. the scholarly reason is that there have been many studies of the 60s and 70s. and these are often treated as having its own kind of caste. it is appearing as radicalism and there aren't a lot of studies that really try to tell the whole story of the 1960s to the present. the lands of the family always works well. helping us to understand the way that things work. it builds upon the work of a generation of historians. this is how we produce work. we stand on the shoulders of
other colleagues and scholars and we strike out also in new directions. so it is based upon a generation of work and a generation of conservatism. my book takes a lot of that work and it strikes out in a kind of new organizational framework that provides a new framework for understanding the last 50 years of american politics. the research in the book really extends from the presidential memo to the grassroots manifesto. so the presidential archives and library, every president from jfk to others. and i've also done research in the styles and documents and collections of grassroots
politics. everything from the national organization for women, gay and lesbian rights organization, the national association of evangelicals, which was a very important organization. i've done research in over 50 archival collections. and i have used about 200 different collections to amass the research for the book. going into the research, if anything surprising it was actually the extent to which the family was essential political metaphor of an icon of liberalism. i went into it expecting that i would find family being central to a post-1960s conservative politics. but what surprised me was how central the family was to liberal politics as well. that was something i had not anticipated. the power and strength and compelling nature of that within
liberalism of the middle decades of the 20th century. whether we are still in a pattern about political debate of the family is an interesting question. this past election in 2012 revealed that the so-called culture wars are still present and still have a compelling grip on at least part of the electorate in the united states. study since the election of 2012, especially with younger voters, reveals that rolls over gender and sexuality -- that these have a less compelling grip on the younger generation. they are not as moved by these questions. so one has to wonder whether this is something that will received in the past or whether we will continue to have this in our policy every two or three
years. if there was one thing that i would urge viewers to take away, our leaders to take away from the book, it's the way in which something is elemental to everyone's life is the family and the way we organize ourselves in terms of families. this could actually be a really critical lens for understanding deeper and broader political trends and political turmoil. so that if we use the family is a kind of historical ones and focus on the period from the 1960s to the present. the last half century or so, i can tell us a lot about how we, as a country, moved from a political era to a much more conservative political era. whether that is changing -- we don't know yet. it's still too early to tell. but certainly the last generation or two has been dominated by a more conservative
orientation of the whole political culture. i think something we are all familiar with and comfortable comfortable with it tells a lot about the transformation. >> is one of the first cities established in the united states, providence, rhode island, has a 400 year history. providence is rich in historical and literary sources and material. >> by now we are here in the historical society library. today we have extraordinary books in our collection that
have political and national significance for you. the first books are actually related to roger williams. probably the most famous founder ever. so roger williams gets the most attention in these books are some of the reasons why. but first i want to look at today is the key into the language of america. and it was published in 1643. it has the original finding. it was the first dictionary in english. this became an amazingly important book. not just in the 17th century but
it shows the relationship and the closeness of the native peoples of rhode island. it views the language and it really is an amazing book that retains significance well into the 20th century. it was incredibly well known and used. the next book was published in 1644. this book has binding, see can handle a little bit. it has to do with a lot of bloody persecution. when we talk about the idea of liberty of conscience.
this is very much the point. it talks about the colonies to the north and he was creating a land where people can worship and could be accepted by the civil law. roger williams was a member of the clergy and was trained in civil law and actually worked for the british parliament. we see a lot of his ideas of civil law and separation of church and state. so this did not sit well with england or massachusetts. this copy was not and we are able to sure that to you today.
this next one is a response to the audio book. so over the span of about 10 years coming, you see the back-and-forth battle of words as these men discuss the philosophical ideas that become the founding of the first amendment of the united states. it is here where we see that we're church and state are articulated and argued over the course of a decade. one of the most important things that roger does is differentiate some of the precepts that are formed. even in pennsylvania where they are quicker. it appeals to liberty of contents. historians have argued through
the 20th century that this has an effect on the first amendment, on declaration, on the constitution. and in effect on the economy of rhode island and how it develops. including immigrants and migrants from all over the colony in world. basically we don't care where you're from or where you worship. we want to be protected by the law. in fact, one man leaves and becomes a clergy in 1727. and he publishes this small volume of a response. it includes his own account of this conversion process. he had a heated debate about
quakers and what they were thinking. what it meant was he could protest what they believed, and he was a man who was an example of how you could migrate from one space to the next. one of the more important things, at least as with a history of books, is that this was published in 1727. it is printed here and sold in newport. this is one of three books that survived. and the only copy i believe exists. as we move forward, we go to some of the more cultural
aspects of rhode island history. so we know that john brown's daughter was married in 1788. and what we have here in our collection shows the connection between museums and collections. this is the earliest collection of country dances and the chileans. it is a wonderful account. the newest and most portable. the pleasure of providence. all of these wonderful dances that we know and can imagine the
men and women of providence in 1788. some of the luminaries and great thinkers show the cultural history and how we can find out more about everyday people and how they would have been in word and dance and film in the 20th century. and i think this is a wonderful example of early history. the next piece that we have harkens back to bed. rhode island actually has the first in a god. located in newport. and becomes significant throughout the economy and political life.
what we have here is a jewish calendar in north america. it shows the festival days and the days of significance for decades. one of the beautiful things is that there is information about it in hebrew and now we have a photo island or a scrapbook. he never did anything as spectacular as this, but he kept an amazing record and he was
discovered by ken burns and he became the model in that time. we are fortunate enough here to have been given a collection from his family. as one wonderful pieces that we have. after he left the war, he became active in the republic and he was an active freemason. he stayed engaged with the civil war and he had these wonderful scrapbooks. this is really a portrait but, if you will, of other major generals. it is an absolutely lovely collection. so this is how i think of him
the most in the way that we envision him. this young man and all of these wonderful stories that make them very real to us. he becomes engaged in his romance with his fiancée -- he artifacts we have are like the wristlet that we have that she sent off to war. there is an amazing place of honor with all of these major generals. he would never have a place of honor for the soldiers of the civil war without recognizing the incredible rules without recognizing the incredible roles they play tonight. the last thing we are going to look at this collection is a jewelry design. rhode island is an industrial
capital right up until about the middle of the century. by the 20th century, it really is the jewelry capital in america. they have a wonderful jewelry design. what we have is a book written by one of the teachers. as you can see, this is his textbook and he comes out with this and he had been working for years in making tools related to the jewelry trade. so he is making the heavier tools and we can see the artistry that is going on.
we see beautiful pieces from 1905 in the earlier part of the 20th century. it shows the art influence in the maritime influence and it illustrates the fine detail of manufacturing that we can see at the turn of the 20th century. manufacturers and designers at the time. he is an active freemason and begins a family and really helps to shape the beautiful jewelry making sina became so important throughout the 20th century. each one of these tells an amazing story. it is part of our national history. we have the stories that help us understand ideology with which our nation was shape that sets us apart from other countries.
as we move forward, it's helpful to reflect on what the principles actually were rather then exaggerated or misunderstood versions. i think roger williams represents that normal story. he can show how a small commoner could have a great impact on the way the rest of the nation and the world works. being able to come here he was able to learn what other historians are learning. he was able to go to the library of archives in england and he
was able to read this. and we start to see these ideas where we are moving all over the world well before we think of the global exchange that we have today. his other books shows how people were living in how they interact with each other. it shows how we shape our economy. how we struggle with redefining ourselves to new economies and political structures throughout the world. we understand how the community could take advantage of opportunities that might have not existed before. what i love is that five people can look the same book and walk away with five different series. seeing what's important to them and making it into something
that is relevant for an unimaginable number of people. history is an interpretation. libraries are the places where people can come. i believe deeply in the importance of digital life as well. it allows people to zoom in into things that they could never see before. i believe they are amazing and magical about a personal communion with the book and an imprint as you hold a book. as we hold in our hands the photo album that was put together as he remembered the civil war. i think it transports us and the closest thing to a time machine that i've ever found. i find it a delightful opportunity to be immersed in
the world of history. and that's what you can do. >> from booktv's recent visit to providence, rhode island, michael stanton talks about his book, "the prince of providence." >> it is the story of the longest-serving mayor. one of the more colorful mayors that you will ever find in the country. he was the lovable rogue who helped city out. he is a very colorful character. i called him a [inaudible]
, you'd have a cup of vodka in one hand and a cigarette and another hand. he would have the keys to the city and another hand. he was the embodiment of american politics. providence and the story of buddy cianci embodies the american story. he had a privileged american italian background. he grew up in an italian enclave in the city and he had a private school education near brown university. he became a lawyer, he became a
prosecutor. he was in a democratic irish city and then he ran for mayor in the 1970s. and he basically upset the democratic machine and became this italian-american republican mayor in the 70s. he saw him as a way both democratic and republican. he had a special way about him. he was the guy that was seen as going places. he was a champion of urban renewal. some problems ensued and gerald
ford lost the election. he went on to become mayor. he had characters who were running around the city stealing manhole covers, selling trucks to private owners. and there was massive corruption. several people in the administration went to prison. he never rounded out his top aide. but he is part of a personal narrative went through a nasty divorce. he basically accused a businessman of sleeping with his wife.
a bodyguard held him prisoner for several hours and tortured him with a lit cigarette. he was ultimately charged with assault. and not force his resignation in 1984. and that was the end of the political career. he spent the next exteriors on talk radio is a popular host. in 1990 he ran for mayor again with a slogan that he never stopped caring. "the wall street journal" called his comeback wonderful end of 1990 he was elected by a few hundred votes. ..